Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This post is nothing more than a complaint and is honestly a rather tedious read.

Though my school pays my rent, I have to pay for "maintenance" each month.  "Maintenance" covers my electricity and water consumption and also a slew of miscellaneous fees that don't make sense when Google Translated but always add up to around 80,000 won.  This maintenance bill is ridiculously hard to pay and has vexed me since the beginning.  I've always managed to pay it on time, often just barely, but this month it will certainly be late.  I feel my grievances on this occasion are best presented as a dialogue:

I don't understand why this bill is such a problem.  How do you pay your other bills?
Automatic debit.  My other two bills, gas and cellphone, are paid automagically.

Why don't you have your maintenance bill automatically debited as well?
My bank won't allow an automatic debit to another bank, e.g. the one my building's management uses.  I found this out the hard way by going downtown to their special English-speaking HQ, asking someone there to make the arrangements, being told I had to go to the other bank, then visiting same and being told it's impossible. Then they kicked me out because it was closing time, and I had nowhere else to go but back home.

Can't you just pay the bill in cash?
The management refuses cash.  All funds must be deposited into their account.

Bummer.  That would've been easy.  But what's so hard about wiring the funds?
I can make a wire transfer from one of my bank's ATMs but I might as well just wire the money into a black hole.  There's no way for me to indicate on the transfer which apartment's bill is being paid.  Even if my name is passed along, it will mean nothing to the receiver because the apartment's not in my name.  It's rented to the school and that's the name on all the documents, including the maintenance bill.  The management has no clue who I am.

Can you give your school the money and have them pay it through their account?
My school's not real big on helping me out.  If I manage to harangue them into an arrangement like this--which I consider unlikely in the extreme--they'll punish me for it in some other way.

What about online banking?
This was my original plan for tackling the maintenance bill issue.  On that same trip to the English-speaking HQ mentioned above I requested online banking access and was told I couldn't have it until I'd been in the country 3 months.  I said "fine," waited 2 months, then opened an account at a second bank that offered better English service, more favorable international wire transfer rates and had not yet wasted my precious time.

Okay, so why don't you use their helpful online bill-paying tool?
It can't locate my apartment building.  I don't know why not.  Frankly, I can't figure out how the thing works, despite its being in English.

Um... how have you paid this bill the last 5 months?
I went to my adversary's bank, helpfully located across the street, and gave a teller cash.

That sounds convenient enough.
Until I tell you banks in Korea close at 4:00 pm and I get off work at 4:30.

Can you go in the morning, before work?  Surely it just takes a minute to pay the bill.
I have to report for duty at 8:30.  Banks here open at 9:00.

How did you accomplish this impossible task 5 times?!?
I paid the last two bills while on vacation.  The other times I went to the bank on one of the two special Fridays of each month, happy days on which I'm released at 3:30.

Why can't you do that again now?
I got the bill last week.  It's due, as always, by the end of the month.  Last Friday was not an early Friday.  Tomorrow is both the due date and a Thursday.

Doesn't your school understand your predicament?  Why not ask them to let you leave early tomorrow so you can pay the bill?
Sure, they understand.  I have neither classes nor urgent work after 3 in the afternoon and they're therefore willing to let me knock off an hour early to pay a bill.  They do, however, consider this a vacation and deduct the hour from my vacation time.

You can't be serious.
Yes, I can be.  Remember the time-wasting trip to my bank's special English-speaking HQ, the one that required two hours of subway travel and still left me with this irritating unsolved problem?  That was a vacation. 

The absurdity is piling into a mountainous configuration.  How do Koreans pay these bills?
They use special bill-paying machines located at every bank.

Is there a reason you can't do the same?
Two:  (1) the special bill-paying machines don't have English interfaces; (2) the special bill-paying machines are only available during banking hours.

In conclusion, here's a picture of another stupid frustration:
There are 10 million people in Seoul.  More than half of them were waiting in this line.

No comments:

Post a Comment